Simon: ‘I didn’t engage in sex with him’

Abigail Simon testifies on Nov. 21, 2014.


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Abigail Simon, the tutor accused of having sex with an underage student, took to the stand in her own defense Friday, saying she’s still afraid of the alleged victim.

The alleged victim, now 17, spent five days on the stand in the trial, testifying the two had a mutual relationship.

But Friday, Simon got right to the point as she was questioned, saying the student, who was 15 at the time, forced her to have sex with him.

“I didn’t engage in sex with him. He forced me to have sex with him,” Simon testified, saying that it was against her will and she asked him to stop.

Simon testified she never thought of the relationship as romantic, but did admit text messages shared between her and the student were “inappropriate.”

She also said she didn’t want the teen to think she had gone to the police about their relationship, for fear that he would get angry and either hurt himself or her.

Simon said he was controlling, always needing to know what was going on in her life. He would get angry, she testified, as she tried to pull away.

He started showing her more attention, she said, texting her and following her. Then, one day, she said, he complained she was paying too much attention to other students.

“I said it was a slap in my face for me saying that, then he slapped me in the face and said ‘that’s a slap in the face,'” Simon testified.

Simon told the jury she wanted to leave and had even asked friends about jobs in other states because she was “uncomfortable” around the alleged victim.

Friday morning before she testified, Simon, now 35, wiped away tears as an interview was played before the jury in which she told police the teen had spent the night at least six times at her home but that they’d never had sex.

“It sounds like love to me,” Grand Rapids Police Detective Amy Lowrie told Simon during the interview.

“I know how it sounds,” Simon said.

Later in the interview, Simon told her: “We never had sex.”

The detective responded: “I know you had sex, he told me that.”

The tutor ended the interview a short time later as the detective pushed for details on their alleged sexual relationship, though she did later ask how the victim was. She was afraid he would be suicidal, she said.

Under cross-examination, the detective said that the victim told police that he was the aggressor – that he had stalked the tutor and threatened to kill her if she told anybody.

“The story that he gave me, I did not believe,” the detective said.

Simon’s attorney, Michael Manley, said he will ask for a directed verdict — a request that the judge dismiss the case without it going to the jury.

Much of the time that the alleged victim spent on the stand earlier in the trial included discussion about racy text messages with the tutor. The defense is trying to paint him as the aggressor, saying the tutor was “under duress.”

The alleged sexual relationship between the teen, who was a Grand Rapids Catholic Central student at the time, and Simon, then a tutor at the school, started in early 2013. Simon is facing charges of first-degree sexual assault and accosting a minor for immoral purposes. 

On Wednesday, the defense pressed the teen about lies told in previous court hearings regarding the sexual relationship between he and Simon. The teen previously claimed that he forced Simon to have sex with him. He claimed he said that because he “was trying to protect Abby.”

The defense claims Simon was intimidated by the 6-foot-3, 220-pound, 15-year-old teen into staying in an abusive sexual relationship. Kent County Assistant Prosecutor Helen Brinkman has called that defense “absurd.”

Both the prosecution and defense used testimony from a sex abuse expert who testified Thursday to bolster their cases.

The prosecution did not get the chance to cross-examine Simon on Friday. The judge said the trial is expected to continue through Monday, going to the jury by the end of the day.

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